Huffpost Politics

Vice Presidential Debate: Joe Biden, Paul Ryan Clash In Kentucky

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By DAVID ESPO AND MATTHEW DALY, ASSOCIATED PRESS

DANVILLE, Ky. — At odds early and often, Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan squabbled over the economy, taxes, Medicare and more Thursday night in a contentious, interruption-filled debate. "That is a bunch of malarkey," the vice president retorted after a particularly tough Ryan attack on the administration's foreign policy.

"Not a single thing he said is accurate," Democrat Biden declared after Ryan said U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens had been denied sufficient security by administration officials. Stevens died in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Both men seemed primed for a showdown from their opening moments on stage, and neither seemed willing to let the other one have the final word.

"I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't interrupt each other," Ryan said to his older rival at one point. But both continued to do so – and interrupted moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC as well.

[Story continues below. Scroll down for live blog updates.]

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The debate took place a little more than a week after President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney met in the first of their three debates – an encounter that has fueled a Republican comeback in opinion polls.

With Democrats eager for Biden to show the spark the president lacked, he did so.

Unprompted, he brought up the video in which Romney had said 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, view themselves as victims and do not take responsibility for their own lives.

"It's about time they take responsibility" instead of signing pledges to avoid raising taxes, Biden said – of Romney, Ryan and the Republicans.

But Ryan quickly turned to dreary economic statistics – 23 million are struggling to work, he said, and 15 percent of the country is living in poverty. "This is not what a real recovery looks like."

Medicare was a flashpoint, as well. Ryan said Obama's health care plan had diverted $716 billion from the program for seniors and created a new board that could deny care to patients who need it.

Democrats "haven't put a credible solution on the table," he said. "They'll tell you about vouchers. They'll say all these things to try to scare people."

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold.

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Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have now both dodged questions about their tax plans by saying in essence they would copy a strategy that they describe as "failing to lead" when President Barack Obama has done it -- leaving details to Congress.

In Thursday night's debate, Ryan did it in refusing to disclose the tax loopholes that he and Romney say they would close to "broaden" the tax base and pay for a tax cut estimated to cost at least trillion. They assert that by closing those loopholes, their tax cut would be entirely paid for.

But neither man has suggested a single loophole, such as the mortgage deduction or deductions for charitable giving, that they would close.

Instead, they want Congress to make those choices.

"We want to work with Congress -- we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this," Ryan said.

"We said here's the framework, let's work together to fill in the details," he said at another point. "That's how you get things done. You work with Congress."

But when Obama has offered broad outlines and asked Congress to fill in the details, Republicans -- and some Democrats -- accused him of a failing to lead.

Ryan did so later in the debate.

"Leaders run to fix problems. President Obama has not even put a credible plan on the table in any of his four years to deal with this debt crisis," Ryan said. "I passed two budgets to deal with this. Mitt Romney's put ideas on the table.

"The president likes to say he has a plan," Ryan said. "He gave a speech. We asked his budget office, 'Can we see the plan?' They sent us to the press secretary. He gave us a copy of the speech."

"You see, that's what we get in this administration -- speeches -- but we're not getting leadership," he added.

He did not note that he thought it was okay when he and Romney only have a plan.

-- Michael McAuliff

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Immediate reaction after Thursday's vice presidential debate was that Vice President Joe Biden did significantly better than President Barack Obama did against Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign, for example, immediately sent out a statement gloating about Biden's performance.

The hosts and analysts of Fox News, however, were far less generous. Sean Hannity, Brit Hume and Greta Van Susteren went after Biden for his demeanor, criticizing him for being rude to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and "smiling" too much.

STEPHEN HAYES: "When he thanked Joe Biden, Biden was smirking. And I just think that came across as very disrespectful."

BRIT HUME: "It looked like a cranky old man, to some extent, debating a polite young man."

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: "The smiles, the sneers ... it made Vice President Joe Biden -- someone who I typically like -- I thought he was very unlikable."

CHRIS WALLACE: "I don't believe I have ever seen a debate in which one participant was as openly disrespectful of the other."

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: "It was so disrespectful."

SEAN HANNITY: "At times, it was so uncontrollable, I was beginning to worry about him [Biden]."



Watch a compilation:



-- Amanda Terkel

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A CNN instant survey of Americans who watched the debate found Paul Ryan eking out a slight victory, 48 percent to 44 percent, but that was well within the survey's margin of error.

Fifty-five percent of CNN respondents said that Vice President Joe Biden performed better than they expected in the debate, 26 percent said he did worse, and 18 percent said he did the same as they expected. Ryan likewise impressed, with 51 percent saying he performed better, 19 percent worse, and 28 percent said he performed the same.

An earlier CBS News online panel poll of uncommitted voters found that 50 percent thought Biden won, 31 percent that Ryan won, and 19 percent that the debate was a tie.

-- Emily Swanson

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Some conservatives were outraged at Vice President Joe Biden's smirks and snickers during the debate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't go quite so far, despite questioning from the obviously perturbed Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Hannity asked McConnell to talk about Ryan's demeanor, calling it "calm" and "smart." McConnell said the American people would probably agree.

"I think they'd like a vice president who is under control, you know?" McConnell said.

Does that mean he thinks Biden isn't?

"Joe is pretty passionate," McConnell said. "Sometimes he can harness it in. Sometimes, he can't."

-- Elise Foley

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Photo: Pete Souza/White House

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Like Mitt Romney during his debate with President Barack Obama last week, Paul Ryan charged during Thursday's debate that health care reform would cause 20 million people to lose their health insurance.

"Look at all the string of broken promises. 'If you like you health care plan, you can keep it.' Try telling that to the 20 million who are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through," Ryan said.

Ryan and Romney both base their claim on a selective reading of a Congressional Budget Office report that predicts the law will extend health insurance coverage to 30 million people. Along the way, 3 million to 5 million people are projected to move from the job-based health benefts they have today to some other form of coverage, such as private health insurance sold on the law's "exchanges" or Medicaid.

The CBO report included alternative calculations that ranged from predicting that Obamacare would actually increase enrollment in job-based health insurance by 3 million, to estimating that 20 million people would lose those benefits, which is the figure Ryan and Romney cherry-picked.

Ryan was on solid ground accusing Obama of breaking his campaign promise to reduce every family's health insurance premiums by ,500 a year. In fact, health insurance premiums continue to rise as they have for years, though the rate of increase has slowed. Health care spending growth overall also has slowed. But since the biggest parts of Obama's law don't take effect until 2014, it's probably had little effect on spending or premiums either way to date.

Ryan also said 7.4 million senior citizens would lose the coverage they currently have on private health insurance plans through the Medicare Advantage program because the health care law cuts its funding. While Ryan accurately cited the projections of Medicare's independent actuary, the number of people on Medicare Advantage plans has increased since the law and health insurance companies have said they don't expect this line of business to collapse.

- Jeffrey Young

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@ THEHermanCain : Biden did the job of "stopping the bleeding'. He went in with strategy to emerge with 'a draw'. He succeeded. #TCOT

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Early in the debate, Paul Ryan slammed Joe Biden over the unemployment rate in Scranton, Pa. -- the vice president's hometown.

"Joe and I are from similar towns. He's from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I'm from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?" Ryan said. "It's 10 percent."

The attack line would have been more effective if Ryan's hometown had been facing its own increasing unemployment under President Barack Obama. But Ryan's hometown of Janesville has seen a declining unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While not every month has seen a drop, in June, Janesville's rate stood at 9.4 percent. In August, it had fallen to 8.6 percent. That's down from a high of 13.9 percent in March 2009.

-- Jason Cherkis

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@ THEHermanCain : There were no winners. This debate was not a debate. Tt was a Distraction. #Biden used interruption as tactic to suppress Ryan's substance.

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Click here for a full transcript of tonight's debate.

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Stepping down from Air Force One, President Barack Obama praised his vice president's performance in the debate.

"I'm going to make a special point of saying that I thought Joe Biden was terrific tonight. I could not be prouder of him. I thought he made a very strong case. I really think that his passion for making sure that the economy grows for the middle class came through. So I'm very proud of him," he said, according to the White House pool report.

Obama added that he talked Biden after the debate.

--Luke Johnson

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Mitt Romney called his running mate Paul Ryan to congratulate him on a "fantastic debate showing" in Kentucky against Vice President Joe Biden.

From the pool report:

Governor Romney called Rep. Ryan and congratulated him on a fantastic debate showing tonight (Approx. 10:40 pm).

He told Paul to say hello to his wife Janna and his family for him and that they should be proud of his debate performance.

--Sabrina Siddiqui

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The first press release to come from the Mitt Romney campaign after the vice presidential debate was from Paul Ryan's mother, praising his answer on Medicare.

"Tonight’s debate showed seniors across the country that we have a very clear choice between the current administration, which has already cut Medicare by 6 billion to pay for Obamacare, and Mitt Romney and Paul who will protect Medicare for retirees like me and strengthen it for my grandchildren’s generation and generations thereafter," said Betty Douglas in the press release.

The Romney campaign has used Douglas as a validater for its Medicare policy before. But in the wake of the debate, when the predominant theme coming from conservatives is that Joe Biden was mean and condescending to Ryan, it strikes an odd note to have his mom be the first to defend him.

-- Sam Stein

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Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin shake hands after the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

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@ gov : Update: Just over 4 million tweets on the night for the VP Debate. 3.5 million of them in the 92 minutes of debate time.

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@ JenScogginsCNN : RNC chair @Reince tells @jimacostacnn that @JoeBiden interrupted @PaulRyanVP 82 times during debate. #cnndebate

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@ CarrieNBCNews : Biden son Beau: "My father was my father." Says it might have been tough to keep a straight face with "what comes out of Ryan's mouth"

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Paul Ryan and Joe Biden offered sharply different opinions on abortion and religious freedom Thursday night in response to a question about their Catholic faith. Ryan said that while his Catholicism inspires him to "take care of the vulnerable," his opposition to abortion is based on science, reason, and an ultrasound image he saw of his unborn daughter.

"Our little baby was in the shape of a bean, and to this day we have nicknamed our first born child, Liza, 'Bean,'" he said. "Now, I believe that life begins at conception ... those are the reasons why I'm pro-life. Now, I understand this is a difficult of issue, and I respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."

Ryan accused Democrats of supporting abortion "without restriction and with taxpayer funding" -- a common talking point among social conservatives that is not true. The Hyde amendment, which has been public policy for three decades, prevents taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions in the U.S. and abroad.

Biden said that while he personally agrees with the Catholic teaching that life begins at conception, he refuses to impose that view on women and people with different beliefs. "I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that, women, that they can't control their body," he said. "It's a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court. I'm not going to interfere with that."

Biden pointed out that before becoming Mitt Romney's running mate, Ryan opposed abortion in cases of rape and incest and supported a bill to redefine rape as it related to the insurance coverage of abortion.

"I guess he accepts Governor Romney's position now, because in the past he has argued that there was -- there's rape and forcible rape. He's argued that in the case of rape or incest ... it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend."

Ryan also went after the Obama administration for "infringing upon" the freedom of religion by requiring most employers and insurers to cover contraception in their plans. "Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain religious liberties," he said.

Biden, who pushed for a broader religious exemption when Obama first announced the contraception mandate, responded by pointing out that the administration's accommodation excuses faith-based employers from having to pay for contraception if they morally oppose.

"Let me make it absolutely clear," he said. "No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise -- including Catholic social services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy, any hospital -- none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact."

-- Laura Bassett

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@ AlexPappasDC : Wow Chris Wallace said of every debate he's ever seen, he's never seen someone as "disrespectful" as Biden--called it "unprecedented"

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@ BarackObama : Tonight proved once again that you won't find a better and more tireless advocate for the middle class than @JoeBiden. -bo #TeamJoe

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@ dcbigjohn : Jim Messina, very pleased, calls Biden a "happy warrior" who created "clear difference" between campaigns. "A good night for us"

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@ howardfineman : Biden goes at the end to his Peeps, the Middle class and the government helping to give them "a clear shot and some peace of mind."

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Progressives seemed significantly more upbeat during the vice presidential debate than they were during the first presidential debate, when it was widely acknowledged that President Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney -- -- at least based on the reaction on social media.

Even before Thursday's debate was over, AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale emailed reporters victoriously, predicting that Obama supporters would get a boost from Vice President Joe Biden's performance: "No more bed-wetting from progressives....everyone on our side is going to be fired up by Joe Biden and ready to hit the phones and doors tomorrow!"

-- Amanda Terkel

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Martha Raddatz asked whether the candidates were ever embarrassed by the tone of the campaign, recounting her conversation with a soldier who said the tone was too negative.

Biden started off by saying, "We only have one truly sacred obligation as a government. That is to equip those we send into harm's way and care for those who come home."

He said he would also tell the soldier, "He, this decorated soldier you talked about, fought for his country, that that should be honored. He should not be thrown into a category of the 47 percent who don't pay their taxes while he was out there fighting and not having to pay taxes and somehow not taking responsibility." Biden, of course, was referencing Romney's infamous remarks at a May fundraiser that surfaced in a leaked video where he said that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as "victims" who are "dependent on government" and will therefore vote for President Barack Obama.

Biden said later, "I would ask him to take a look at whether the president of the United States has acted wisely in the use of force and whether or not the slipshod comments being made by my friend, or by Governor Romney, serve our interests very well."

--Luke Johnson

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@ brianstelter : Chris Matthews: "Great debate." Raddatz: "wonderful." "On the issues that matter to the American people, clear victory for Joe Biden."

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Vice President Joe Biden's laughing and smiling during Republican vice president nominee Paul Ryan's answers early in tonight's debate amused viewers participating in an instant survey conducted by The Huffington Post.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they were amused by Biden's laughing/chuckling, while 46 percent found themselves annoyed by the vice president's facial expressions. The group of 300 viewers was polled by OvertheShoulder.com for HuffPost. The randomly selected group ranges across the political spectrum and was polled via a smartphone app during the debate.

- John Celock

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The Obama campaign comes out of the gate gloating from Biden's performance, with press secretary Ben Labolt emailing the following spin/thoughts, even before the closing statements ended.

Tonight proved that facts matter -- VP laid out the economic choice in this election in a straightforward and forceful way, and Ryan couldn't defend the Romney-Ryan policies. Brought talking points, couldn't defend their plans w/ facts.

Ryan couldn’t assure the middle class their taxes wouldn’t be raised to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest, how their plans would create jobs, how their Iran policy would differ from the President’s, or commit to getting our troops home from Afghanistan.

-- Sam Stein

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Ryan: "President Obama -- he had his chance. He made his choices... it's not working."

"This is not what a real recovery looks like. You deserve better... Mitt Romney -- his experience, his ideas, his solutions -- is uniquely qualified to get this job done... Wouldn't it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?"

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@ howardfineman : #VPdebate Ryan calls Biden "extreme" on abortion. Biden outreach to women. Raddatz asks whether abortion supporters should worry. YES!

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Throughout the night, Vice President Joe Biden slammed his Republican opponent Paul Ryan's blustery talk concerning conflicts in the Middle East. When it came to the subject of the ongoing mess in Syria, Biden declared that any American response would not include ground troops. "The last thing America needs is to get in another ground war in the Middle East," he said.

"Nobody is proposing to send troops to Syria," Ryan insisted.

This may be a point of agreement, depending on who you believe.

Mitt Romney in August told CBS news he would send troops in to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and whether that requires troops, or whether that requires other actions by our friends and allies," Romney said.

President Barack Obama had suggested a similar threshold for sending troops to Syria.

Romney recently asserted he would be open to arming the Syrian rebels. "We should play an active role," he explained. "That doesn't mean sending in troops or dropping bombs. But it does mean actively participating in a place like Syria to assure that Assad goes and that a reasonable and responsible government follows."

-- Jason Cherkis

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Biden: "The fact is that we're in a situation where we inherited a God-awful circumstance. People are in real trouble."

Biden also used his closing statements to bring up the "47 percent" and "30 percent" remarks again. "The president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled."

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Paul Ryan found himself in a bit of a tangle when he went in search of differences between the Republican ticket and the Barack Obama administration over the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, scheduled for the end of 2014.

Mitt Romney has said for months that he agrees with the plan for leaving the war, and the timeline for doing so, but he doesn't agree with having made it public.

Ryan reiterated this on Thursday night: "We don't want to broadcast to our enemies, 'Put a date on your calendar,'" we'll be leaving, Ryan said. But pressed on the reality that would face his potential administration, he clarified, "We do agree with the timeline."

Biden was far more direct: "We are leaving in 2014. Period," he said.

--Joshua Hersh

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Ryan: "What you need are people, when they say they're going to go do something, go do it."

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@ zachdcarter : Paul Ryan saying "I've passed two budgets" is wildly misleading. Did not pass the Senate. #VPdebate

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Biden took a swipe at Justice Scalia's conservatism while discussing abortion.

"The next president will get 1 or 2 SCOTUS nominees," Biden said. "That's how close overturning Roe v. Wade is. Is he likely to appoint someone like Scalia?"

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@ jbendery : Ryan asked if Romney/Ryan would overturn Roe v Wade: "We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision."

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@ erinruberry : Joe Biden: "I do not believe we have the right to tell women how to control their bodies." #vpdebate #debates

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Biden on Ryan: "In the past he's argued.. in the case of rape or incest it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with that."

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@ feliciasonmez : "I respect people who don't agree with me on this," Ryan says, "but the policy of a Romney admin will be" to oppose abortion, w exceptions

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Joe Biden is winning a crucial test during the vice presidential debate, bringing undecided voters into his corner. Biden, an hour in, has persuaded 64 percent of those polled, while Ryan has won 36 percent of them.

The survey, conducted for HuffPost by OverTheShoulder.com, is dubbed a "Smartphone Town Hall" and draws on a random sample of more than 300 voters from across the political spectrum. The members of the panel are watching the debate live and answering questions sent to their phones.

-- Ryan Grim

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@ ajjaffe : "I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life, from their faith." - Ryan

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Vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz pressed Republican hopeful Paul Ryan on his ticket’s promise to cut all federal income tax rates 20 percent without increasing the budget deficit or increasing the tax burden on middle-class earners. The Tax Policy Center has said the Republican math doesn't work.

“Let's talk about this 20 percent,” Raddatz said. “You have refused to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics or are you still working on it and that's why you won't tell voters?”

Ryan said that his plan would deny loopholes and deductions for millionaires, and that a Romney administration would work with Congress. Raddatz asked, “You guarantee this math will add up?”

“Six studies have verified that this adds up,” Ryan said.

But not all of the six studies are actually studies. As HuffPost has reported, three of them are blog posts or op-eds, and one was paid for by Romney for President Inc.

-- Arthur Delaney

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HuffPost's Ryan Grim reports:

An hour into the debate, a survey of more than 300 debate watchers from across the political spectrum finds that Vice President Joe Biden is handily beating Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.

The survey, conducted for HuffPost by OverTheShoulder.com, is dubbed a "Smartphone Town Hall" and draws on a random sample of more than 300 voters. The members of the panel are watching the debate live and answering questions sent to their phones.

Click here to read more.

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@ BuzzFeedAndrew : Ryan on when he would intervene in Syria: "What is in the national interest of the US people."

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@ howardfineman : #VPdebate Ryan scores on Syria, but not really convincing on how america is less safe or how Obama foreign policy is "unrvaveling,"

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@ howardfineman : #VPdebate Joe is getting kind of cranky. It's late. He's had to sit with this kid for more than an hour. AFGHANS!!

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Perhaps the most famous vice presidential debate moment in history is from 1988, when Democrat Lloyd Bentsen mocked the young Republican Dan Quayle for comparing himself to President John F. Kennedy.

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," said Bentsen.

Biden attempted something similar during Thursday's vice presidential debate, when Ryan attempted to defend his economic plan and argued it was possible to cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve many popular deductions and loopholes for middle-class taxpayers, including the mortgage interest deduction.

Biden argued it was "not mathematically possible" to do so, while Ryan argued it was entirely possible -- saying Kennedy had done it:

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: It's been done a couple of times.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates and increased growth. Ronald Reagan --

BIDEN: Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy.

RYAN: Ronald Reagan --

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: This is amazing.

RYAN: Republicans and Democrats have worked together on this. I understand you guys aren't used to bipartisan deals.



Watch the famous 1988 exchange:



-- Amanda Terkel

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@ jbendery : "All this loose talk of my friend Gov Romney... what more would they do but put American boots on the ground?" -Biden on Syria.

@ aterkel : "Nobody is proposing to send troops to Syria -- American troops." -- Paul Ryan #vpdebate

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Joe Biden made mention of Paul Ryan's support for the sequestration cuts -- the automatic "trigger" cuts that swing down on both the domestic discretionary spending and defense spending that were agreed to when the deficit "supercommittee" was established. (When the "supercommittee" was created, both parties agrees to a series of severe cuts to spending that would be enacted if the "supercommittee" failed to reach a deal.) Biden recalled Ryan's enthusiasm for the sequestration -- an enthusiasm the Romney/Ryan ticket has been striving to downplay, in order to hang the agreed-to defense cuts around the Obama administration's neck.

But the problem for Ryan is that he was really enthusiastic about the sequestration agreement, including the defense cuts. You can still find this statement on Ryan's House website, in which Ryan praises the deal as a "culture changing" moment:

“The Budget Control Act represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy. I applaud Speaker Boehner’s leadership in stopping tax increases on job creators, rejecting President Obama’s demands for a blank check to keep borrowing, and advancing real spending cuts and controls. The agreement – while far from perfect -– underscores the extent to which the new House majority has successfully changed Washington’s culture of spending. No longer can Washington endlessly spend money it does not have.

And when the sequestration was agreed to, Ryan took to the floor of the House of Representatives to praise the agreement -- military cuts and all! -- as a "bipartisan compromise" of such significance, that it required a moment of reflection:

RYAN: Let me just sum up by saying this, Mr. Speaker. This debate, it's very clear that we have differences of opinions. We have different philosophies on how to address these issues. But we're coming up to a deadline that we all must recognize: default. And so what this has done, it has brought our two parties together. So I would just like to take a second to reflect for a moment that we have a bipartisan compromise here. That doesn't happen all that often around here; so I think that's worth noting. That's a good thing.

First off, as my colleague from Texas has just said, this is a down payment on the problem. It's a good step in the right direction, and it is a huge cultural change to this institution. Both parties got us in this mess. Both parties are going to have to work together to get us out of this mess, and the real problem, I would add, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that we spend way more money than we take in. We have to address that.

To my friends on the left, I think they would like to take comfort in the fact the way these spending cuts are designed and the way the sequester is designed.

To my friends on the right, we are cutting spending. We have been trying to get discretionary caps in law for years. I have been here 13 years trying for it every year, this is the first time.

Emphasis mine. The point is, Ryan was a big fan of the defense cuts mandated in the sequestration when it suited his purposes. They don't anymore, and so he'd like to disown them.

-- Jason Linkins

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HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy reports:

Forty minutes into the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, Biden continues to hold the upper hand, according to an instant survey of viewers. About two thirds of the audience polled said Joe Biden was winning, while 36 percent said Paul Ryan was ahead.

The survey, conducted for HuffPost by OverTheShoulder.com, is dubbed a "Smartphone Town Hall" and draws on a random sample of more than 300 voters from across the political spectrum. The members of the panel are watching the debate live and answering questions sent to their phones.

Click here to read more.

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